15 April 1864: “Before leaving town the Yankees burned the Court house, the railroad bridge over the Ouachita and one other small public office”

Item Description: Diary entry, 15 April 1864, by Sarah Lois Wadley, describing Union forces leaving Monroe and the liberation of slaves. Wadley was the daughter of William Morrill Wadley (1812?-1882) and Rebecca Barnard Everingham Wadley (fl. 1840-1884) and lived with her family in homes near Amite in Tangipahoa Parish, Monroe and Oakland in Ouachita Parish, La., and near Macon, Ga.

[Item transcription available below images]

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Item Citation: From folder 5 of the Sarah Lois Wadley Papers # 1258Southern Historical CollectionThe Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

Friday night, April 15th.

I have allowed two days to pass without writing the news, the Yankees are gone, and I have been so busy that I have not been able before to chronicle this great event. We heard the news Tuesday evening and on Wednesday morning Father and Mother went to town, the Yankees had indeed gone, taking all the cotton they could get, and from five hundred to a thousand negroes, almost everyone in Monroe lost their house servants, and some lost all on their plantations. Mrs. Stevens had not one house servant left except her old carriage driver, Cuffy. Mrs. Tucker’s little servant girl did not go, but every one of Mrs. Stevens did. The day that Mother was there Mrs. Tucker and Mary prepared the dinner, their servants did not leave until Monday night and left everything prepared for breakfast. Scott was very honourable, she has her Misstresses Silver in her charge but took none of it away with her, I am so sorry for Mrs. Stevens, as I said before she has many companions in misfortune. Mrs. Garrett is the only lady who lost none. Five of the railroad negroes left, three of whom we thought the most faithful, Nate, Little Cuffy and Ike, who all, especially Nate, behaved so well on our way to Georgia. I believe he was promised a Captaincy, perhaps that allured him, we lost but one negro, Little Emmaline, who was hired in Monroe with her husband, a railroad boy, and left with him. Before leaving town the Yankees burned the Court house, the railroad bridge over the Ouachita and one other small public office, they did not trouble private property at all except to take all the cotton they could find. I was surprised to hear of so many negroes going, it is said that one woman killed her little baby, who was very sick, and she knew would keep her from going, many left their little babies on the plantation to go.

But let us leave this sad and sickening topic for one very dear and happy to me. Wednesday evening Eldridge came back from Homer and brought me two letters, one from Willie and one from Mrs. Morancy. Willie’s letter was very delightful to me, is so affectionate, he says he arrived in Homer about eleven o’clock Sunday morning and had gone to Church, then on the back of the envelope he says that he had been to Church that night and that he wishes that I could be there this week, they were going to have preaching every night. Oh, my dear Brother, are my long cherished hopes, my daily prayers to be realized, shall I see him happy in the way that I have desired for him with a great desire. God grant it may be so, I wish no better thing for him than that he may feel the love of Christ in his heart.

Mrs. Morancy’s letter was affectionate as ever, she tells me that Willie’s staying with them, says Mrs. Barr would take no excuse, she writes of the happiness of Mr. Bowmar Barr and his wife in their baby boy, I feel with them in this deepest, purest joy, it seems strange to think that Mr. Barr is no older than Willie.

Mrs. Mays spent the day with us yesterday, came for me to sew her hat. I was showing her about how to sew one for her little bay and had so many interruptions that I only finished the crown of her hat, have not worked any on it today, but shall try and finish it tomorrow. It has been disagreeably chilly today, fires were comfortable even at noon, Father and I took a ride this evening, saw such a beautiful haw tree in full bloom and gathered a quantity of the fragrant white wreaths, some of them are shedding their perfume through my room, combined with that of a rose that Mary sent me the other day, my little geranium is living and growing, my Valeria, it means so much to me as I look on its two delicate little leaves I am scarce refrain from caressing them, am only with held by the thought that my caress might hurt it. But my writing is becoming almost illegible, my eyes are tired and I must prepare for bed.

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